Al Goldstein

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Al Goldstein
Al Goldstein.jpg
Born Alvin Goldstein
(1936-01-10)January 10, 1936
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died December 19, 2013(2013-12-19) (aged 77)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Ethnicity Jewish[1]
Occupation Publisher
Spouse(s) Lonnie Leavitt (divorced: 1963–65)
Mary Phillips (1968–77; divorced)
Gena Goldstein (1978–91; divorced)
Patricia Flaherty (married 1994–99; divorced)[citation needed]
Christina Ava Maharaj (2004—2006; divorced)
Children Jordan Goldstein

Alvin "Al" Goldstein (January 10, 1936 – December 19, 2013) was an abrasive American publisher and pornographer.


In 1968 in New York he founded Screw, a weekly tabloid "Consumer Reports for sex" featuring reviews of stag films, peep shows, massage parlors, and other offerings of the adult entertainment industry, interspersed with hardcore pictorials, personal ads, the occasional interview, and scathing editorials lambasting The Establishment. "Screw grew from a combination of many factors, chief of which was my own dissatisfaction with the sex literature of 1968 and my yearning for a publication that reflected my sexual appetites," he wrote. "I may be making a lot of money, but I really believe I'm doing some good by demythologizing a lot about sexuality," he said in a Playboy Interview. Arrested 19 times on obscenity charges, he spent millions on First Amendment lawsuits, ultimately scoring a major victory when a federal judge threw out an obscenity case in 1974. Venue-shopping prosecutors chose Wichita, Kansas, to prosecute Goldstein for obscenity; when he was found not guilty, he flew the jury to New York to attend a party at the swing club Plato's Retreat.[2]

In his 2011 book Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! - of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder, former Screw writer and editor Mike Edison documents Goldstein's rise and fall against the successes of his peers Larry Flynt of Hustler, Bob Guccione of Penthouse, and Hugh Hefner of Playboy. Edison also lauds Goldstein as a staunch fighter for the First Amendment, quoting author Gay Talese who wrote about Goldstein in his book Thy Neighbor's Wife as saying, "We need a free society, and freedom is not won by literary tea parties and well-meaning, virtuous publishers, it is won by disreputable people like Al Goldstein." Edison also quotes the New York reporter Jimmy Breslin as saying, "Al Goldstein is one of four people in the last 35 years who has effectively protected the First Amendment rights of reporters who bring the news to you. The others are Ralph Ginzburg, Larry Flynt, and Lenny Bruce. I know you don’t want to meet them, but you owe them.”[3]

Midnight Blue[edit]

In 1974 Goldstein began Screw Magazine of the Air, soon renamed Midnight Blue, a thrice weekly hour-long adult oriented public access program that ran for nearly 30 years on Manhattan Cable's Channel J.[4] In it he regularly interviewed porn stars, other adult industry figures, and sympathetic celebrities and "freaks," and ran advertisements for brothels and phone sex services. Seven volumes of excerpts from the show have been reissued on DVD.[5]

Views on pornography and religion[edit]

In his book XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul, Luke Ford wrote about a conversation with Goldstein, in which Ford asked Goldstein why the porn industry contained so many Jews. Goldstein answered, "The only reason that Jews are in pornography is that we think that Christ sucks. Catholicism sucks. We don't believe in authoritarianism." Ford then asked, "What does it mean to you to be a Jew?" To which Goldstein responded, "It doesn't mean shit. It means that I'm called a kike." Ford also asked, "Do you believe in God?" Goldstein said, "I believe in me. I'm God. Fuck God. God is your need to believe in some super being. I am the super being. I am your God, admit it. We're random. We're the flea on the ass of the dog."[6]

In 1989, Goldstein ran a full page ad in Screw offering $1 million for the assassination of the Ayatollah Khomeini, in response to Khomeini's fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie for blaspheming Islam.[7]


Goldstein had a son, Jordan Ari Goldstein, who graduated from Georgetown University and Harvard. They were estranged after Al's treatment of his mother. While Goldstein was a celebrity at his son's Georgetown University graduation,[8] Jordan did not invite his father to his graduation ceremony at Harvard.[9]

Last years[edit]

In 2002, Goldstein was found guilty of harassing a former spouse, having published her telephone number and place of employment in Screw and encouraging readers to call her and tell her "to stop being such a cunt". Goldstein was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Goldstein served six days in prison before the charges were overturned on appeal. Goldstein apologised as part of a plea bargain.[10][11][12] Goldstein's company, Milky Way Productions, which published Screw and Midnight Blue, went into bankruptcy in 2004, having lost sales and subscribers as a result of Internet pornography, abetted by Goldstein's mismanagement.[13] Goldstein lost his mansion in Pompano Beach, Florida, and his town house on Manhattan's Upper East Side. He was financially supported in his last years by his friend illusionist Penn Jillette, on whose floor he once slept, and who admired Goldstein for his First Amendment activism.[14]


Goldstein died on December 19, 2013, aged 77, from renal failure at a nursing home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.[15]


  1. ^
  2. ^,531430; "Pornography on Trial," The New York Times Magazine, March 6, 1977; Al Goldstein, and Josh Alan Friedman, I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life, 2006
  3. ^ Edison, MIke (2011). Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! - Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers, an American Tale of Sex and Wonder. 
  4. ^; "Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein dies aged 77". Guardian (Associated Press). 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul
  7. ^ "Threat begets threats". Boca Raton News. 1989-04-14. Retrieved 2013-12-20. 
  8. ^ Al Goldstein and Josh Alan Friedman, I, Goldstein. My Screwed Life
  9. ^ Screw Harvard Law: Father of Porn Renounces Son, Blames Harvard, Harvard Crimson, February 27, 2003
  10. ^ Albin, Stacy (October 23, 2003). "Pornographer In Plea Deal". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Christian, Nichole M. (February 28, 2002). "Pornographer Guilty in Harassment Case". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Newman, Andy (May 18, 2002). "6 Days in Jail Broke Him, Freed Pornographer Says". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Newman, Andy (2004-08-12). "68 and Sleeping on Floor, Ex-Publisher Seeks Work". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-23. ; Al Goldstein and Josh Alan Friedman, I, Goldstein. My Screwed Life
  14. ^ Sloan, Will (December 20, 2013). "Al Goldstein: The Anti-Hef". Hazlitt. Random House of Canada. Retrieved December 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ Newman, Andy. "Al Goldstein, Who Made Porn Dirtier, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]


  • Goldstein, Al (and Josh Alan Friedman). I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life (2006). New York: Thunder's Mouth Press.
  • Goldstein, Al & Jim Buckley (eds.). The Screw Reader (1971). New York : Lyle Stuart.

External links[edit]